Saints move on from 'embarrassment'

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints players admitted Thursday they were "embarrassed" by their 34-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, that they were "not proud of" their performance, and that they just plain "got whupped."

But to a man, they insisted they weren’t still dwelling on it. And that their confidence certainly wasn’t shaken by it as they head toward another critical showdown against the Carolina Panthers (9-3) on Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"We’ve done things well for a very long time in a lot of different ways. One game does not set that back," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said after the team’s first practice of the week on Thursday. "One game does not change our mindset, our confidence level or our attitude in any way. Last week is in the rearview mirror.

"We still know we’re a great football team. We still know that everything we want to achieve is right out in front of us. All the things that happened in that game are all the things that can be fixed, things that we can identify and that we can fix."

Offensive tackle Zach Strief agreed, saying that if the Saints were truly as bad as Monday night’s showing indicated, then they wouldn’t be 9-3 at this point.

And rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro said there was no need for any coaches or veteran players to make some sort of rallying speech to boost confidence.

"Everybody kind of just washed it away," Vaccaro said. "And I think I’ve seen enough on ESPN, saying that, ‘The Saints haven’t lost like this in so long.’ So we’ve seen it on TV that it was kind of an embarrassment. But I think guys are past it, and we know this is a divisional opponent, we’ve got the same record. This is our road to success, so we’ve got to win the next game.

"I mean, the season’s not over. I think we kind of know now that most likely it’s gonna go through Seattle, and if we come back there, we want that chance again, when we’re up for it. But we’re not throwing away our season because we lost to the best team in the NFL."

That doesn’t mean the Saints completely ignored everything that happened in the loss to Seattle, where they were dominated in just about every aspect of the game.

When coach Sean Payton was asked what the Saints need to improve from on offense, he said, "Shoot, pretty much everything."

And it will be especially important for the Saints to learn from their mistakes since the Panthers play a very similar brand of football as the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. They have the NFL’s top two defenses this year in both points allowed and yards allowed. And they both have elusive dual-threat quarterbacks and strong rushing attacks.

The good news about Sunday’s tough matchup is that it certainly has the Saints’ attention. Carolina is the hottest team in the NFL, riding an eight-game winning streak. And they’ll face each other twice over the next three weeks with the NFC South and No. 2 playoff seed on the line.

"I think at this point in the year, playing in a division race like we are, I think both teams will be ready and excited. I don’t think it’s a game where you have to worry about whether teams are going to be fired up to play," said Payton, who also expressed confidence in his team’s ability to bounce back from Monday’s performance.

"We have guys that are experienced, guys that understand what is at stake. It’s a big game," Payton said. "And I think we are pretty good at that window of whether it is a win or a loss, moving past it."